tv This Is America With Dennis Wholey WHUT January 30, 2011 6:00pm-6:30pm EST
>> this past week, we spoke with the present it at the ever- american institute about his new book "arab voices." during that conversation, dr. zogby talked about the importance of listening to what the arab world has to say. >> if we listen to the arab of voices, what would we here? >> what it would say principally is that they really like us. they do not feel we like them. >> over the past year, "this is america "this is america" has traveled extensively in the arab world. on one of these trips, we had a firsthand opportunity to sit and talk with many leaders from the united arab emirates.
listen to these arab voices, hear what they have to say, and learn, as we did. "this is america" -- brought to you by -- the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children and public education. the american federation of teachers, a union of professionals. the league of arab states, representing 350 million people in 22 member countries. the rotondaro family trust, the ctc foundation, and the american life tv network. and afo communications.
>> what would you like the people back in america to know about the uae? >> well, basically, we always believe that there is some kind of stereotype image, which is sometimes the wrong image, based on the lack of information. we do not like to be portrayed as an oil-producing country. we do not like to be portrayed as a desert. we like to be portrayed as we are, as you can see it yourself, and you see it there your group. what is important to us is not the oil. it is the how we have been using the oil. if you're here in this city, let us say 35, 40 years ago, you will not have found a street.
you would not have running water. you would not have had electricity definitely. you would not have seen cars. maybe one or two cars. you would not have seen maybe except one school, maybe a small clinic, or not. and now, in the uae, you have 130 million trees. we're self-sufficient and export. we have production of several kinds of fruits. we had schools everywhere. you can see the infrastructure. what is more important is that there are human beings. we have three to one education for females. we have several universities in the uae now. we have hospitals. we have the media. we have industry. we have also tourism. this all happened in a very short time span. and i always say it is thanks to
god that we're still behaving as human beings. we're not flying on the earth, because it is impossible to grasp the speed and the change that has happened in such a time span. we do not want to melt in this world, which is an open world. we like to benefit from the world, but at the same time, maintain and enrich our identity. which is part of this a value system. it is very important. it is not a matter of language. many people now speak english, people speak chinese even. japanese, french. but what is important is the value system. to maintain your culture, and richer culture, to benefit from international cultures. to benefit from international development. but at the same time, have it within your own culture and values system. >> and when you talk about values and value system, what
would you say are the one two predominant values in the arab world? >> well, it is simplicity, and it is hospitality. we do not have everything here. we did i keep things in our heads. we're simple people. we forget usually people who do wrong things to us. we always like to have something better. also, we are god-believers. we believe in god. we believe that we're all the same, whether we are arabs or non-arabs. we do not believe in extremism. we believe in a tolerant society, a tolerant religion. their religion maintains that all people are the same and nobody is a different from the other except by his good- undoing. good-doing. >> i am one of the generation the you'll find everywhere now.
before the establishment of the united arab emirates, a sister was a broad studying at the university. my father agreed that my eldest sister would go abroad to further her education because we did not have universities here at that time. even the founder of the uae, i used to have a close relationship with him. i know him very well. i am in his house all the time. so although he is, you know, an old man, but he is a very wise, and he was also pushing us as women. he said, i am giving you all the space, and i want you to prove yourself. i want you to be doctors. i want you to be nurses, engineers. i want not only teachers. usually women were in two
fields, education and the health sector. always, all over the world. he wants us to be everywhere. you know, we're one of the countries in the region that has females in the army before everybody else. we have a military school for girls, and i wish you had time to visit it. all the doors are open. and we're pushing hard for that, for women to have higher positions now. we are in the cabinet. we are four ministers. we have nearly 24.5% in the parliament. and we have hundreds of them, as in high positions as executives and all over the emirates. and i am not only talking about difficult environment, but i am talking about the private sector also. they're everywhere.
as long as we have education, there is a speciality and you go to the universities. most of them also continue for a master's degree and ph.d. at the university. most of them are females, and their local. and i think it depends on the woman. if she wants to do her job toward society, we give her all the empowerment. there is school free of charge, university free of charge. everyone can go there and study. and the chances you have, you have the whole labor market there. he had the government. you can be everywhere. but you have to prove yourself. >> it was a wonderful article that appeared just yesterday in the national, the newspaper. and the headline was "we like life in the uae." the poll found that people were
very content here, and the people feel pretty good about the quality of life here. >> the kind of infrastructure that the uae enjoys, the kind of tourism, and so forth, you'd be amazed at what has been achieved in a very short time for the uae. but also, i mean, when you have the initial lines of diversity, which is it true. you would see people from different backgrounds, different cultures, different religions. yet, they live in peace and harmony. this is something we are part of. but again, there are some down sides. some people are worried about them. about the culture, about conditions. you know, their identity. these issues remain a concern to some people.
but if you're open-minded and accepting of people regardless of their backgrounds, i think you'll be more, comfortable dealing with these. >> in every country, it seems that cancer and heart disease are the number one in every two killers, all around the world. same here is true? >> correct. cardiovascular diseases the number one health priority area, followed by diabetes and also cancer. with regards to diabetes and having a congenital abnormality, those of very common to the indigenous populations currently in the uae. >> why do you think that is so? >> well, i think because the degree of change of the population has gone through in terms of lifestyle change, public health-related challenges they go forward from where there were as a population 50 years ago and in a very different life styles are versus with the oil has been able to change in their lives today and
in terms of their food habits today in in terms of exercise and physical activity? there has been so much change in our lives over the last couple of years and with the growth expectation, i think we move in very fast times. we are sometimes look here for some of the changes that have happened in such a short time span, but sometimes we bring an extra challenges to people like ourselves to have to set expectations and meet expectations of the people. specially in the areas of education and health care. in a growing nation that is moving at this pace, you need to be able to deliver. so we choose our partners. we worked diligently. and we look for opportunities of knowledge transfer from those that know best. so we're not trying to reinvent any wheels. we're just trying to run the wheel faster. >> so many people in america and in the west looked upon the arab world, and not to generalize about the arab world, but they
think of it being a male- dominated society and repressive of women. how can you help us understand what is going on here? >> in fact, maybe i can express myself clearly when i talk about man and woman in the uae. i think we're really practicing a real opportunity to be ourselves, as a human being first, with a high level of human values. and second, as genders. to complete each other, to help each other. to understand each other, to participate and to contribute to lives together. it is not either me or you. it is somebody winning a game. but here, it is different. we are provided with real opportunities by our government.
we're proud to have this. to be the best hour of -- of ourselves. the man or woman. and this is very, very promising for us, very encouraging for us to go forward and to make the best of these opportunities, to learn, to educate ourselves, to develop ourselves, and to build this country, which we really love so much. >> it is a very family-oriented culture and society. >> it is. it is very much family oriented. we respect the value of family. we are really deep in that feeling of family as assistant said, as commitments to members of the family, and this is exactly what they're doing at the foundation. >> how does that fast-track that this country is on make your job
more challenging, more frustrating, and how is it changing for the family? >> thanks for the very good question. in fact, we're challenging ourselves by seeing the importance of integrating with others, communicating with others. adapting international standards of knowledge, technology, communication, and at the same time, we have our culture and values of families. that balance is not easy. you have to consider many issues at the same time. you have to have openness, and at the same time, preserving and maintaining some of values. which values?
this is our role. which values sessionman team for my culture. older values? evidently not. for that, we have come to the conclusion to consider the values that are compatible with our cultures here. it is our top priority. >> and it would be? >> would be like humanity values, honesty, not being judgmental, being positive. the best one is positiveness. when you're positive all the time when confronted with problems, just feeling that you have to be positive and learn from that situation. this is the best universal guideline i would consider for my country and myself and for others. >> when you're looking at television and you may stumble into cnn : of the english- speaking channels, what
frustrates you about how the media presents the news of the arab world, and specifically, the gulf countries, uae, obviously part of our conversation? what causes you to just kind of say that they're not getting it right, they do not understand what is going on? >> actually, sometimes you can feel there is a lack of understanding. maybe it is partly from us. we do not do enough to keep ourselves understood. and also from your part not making an effort to understand the facts. however, this kind of communication between us through these meetings, through these interviews, and also through delegations and visits from both parties, that will help a lot to
make things more clear. we can maintain this friendship. the ground and platform for the friendship is a very solid, we think. however, we need to work hard to make sure that there is clarity and understanding always in the relationship to make it more effective. >> had you get past that the stereotype that an arab is either a billionaire or a bomber? >> that depends on how you look at it. but frankly speaking, we have to be fair. we have to be fair to the arabs and understand the arabs by understanding the, you know, the history, culture, and the people, the arab people, i mean. we are, you know, this uae is
part of the arab world, but when you come to uae, you'll see that it is multi-national. you will feel the freedom you have. you will feel the warm hospitality to all the people, regardless of their religion, culture, and all that. we want others -- we want to see others as we want others to see us, based on our values and cultural background and historical background. we're part of the world and would like to see others understand this better. >> i get a sense that the arab people are very proud. pride of their heritage, proud of their countries, proud of their families. there is something there, but it is not a boastful pride. it is the kind of double- >> it is a pride that you can
feel in the relation between the family, between the family -- we are based on the family in the beginning. it is very important. you'll find that religion sticks to the relation between the father, son, and mother. it is very important for the muslims. it is based on the family. then it is based also with the neighbors and how you, as a muslim, communicate with your society. it is very important to us. this is why you find the family and community is very important in the islamic sector. >> as you look at the west, america specifically, what would you like us to know? >> i think it is understanding the arab mentality. it is a very good to understand others. this is why arabs are a bit like the americans.
from our side, we feel that they are seen as part of the muslims, but we have seen that of the last 10 to 15 years. we're a bit annoyed and want americans to understand more that arabs are very tolerant and open to others. i think we're sharing the same life. i do not think that arabs are very bad communities or have very close to mentalities. they're very open and very intelligent. and there's so open for others. >> do you get frustrated with the stereotypes? >> yes, we're interested. we see it in hollywood. >> one that sticks out in your mind is what? >> i think it is about arabs that would bomb themselves.
this is what portrays us. not all arabs are bombers. >> there is a natural hesitancy, may be on the part of some americans, in opening up to the arab world because of what we have experienced in the last 10 years or so. >> it is about examples from the arab world. you cannot see 200 million arabs that are the prototype of the terrorists. i think anyone would be annoyed with that. we do not want to have a relationship with the world that is very frustrated like that, people seeing us as terrorists. the care a lot about the family and their relationships between them. in islam, it is very important that your neighbors have to have a very good relations and believe. you have to have a good relation with your neighbors. it does not matter what his
religion is. it is very important that you have very good relations. the islamic prophet was having a good relationship with the jewish and christians in islam. it was very good. very good examples for the muslims. but i think some muslims have been brainwashed by others to reflect this a very bad image of us. >> so the extremists over there on the far, far -- >> even from our side, we do not like them. no one likes the extremist muslims. it is very badly for us. >> so it does hurt muslims? >> and the arabs. >> no one likes them. >> of course, the hospitality is very important in our culture. nowadays, it is translated into
-- we host the conference with people from 200 nationalities. all of them live in peace, and they're happy to work in our country. >> you go back about 56 years ago, standards of life here was some of the poorest in the world. to go from point a to point b with the vision of the government, today we have some of the best standards of life in the world. world class living for the people. i am sure many residents here and citizens appreciate this development of me, personally, i am very proud of this achievement. >> when i was first beginning to learn about dubai, an article, my attention with the indoor ski slope that the mall of the
emirates. >> the mall of the emirate. it was created about three years ago. and especially because you're in the desert, it is an excellent addition to our tourist attractions. because many of the people live here have never skied. so you have this facility in a short distance. >> you may have heard about it. you may have even read about it. it is a cold, and it is snowing, and we are right in the middle of the desert. we're at the mall of the emirate's in the bike in the uae, and it has everything here -- in dubai in the uae. it has everything here. skiing, snowboarding, slitting, and it has snow coming down right here. ♪
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the american federation of teachers, a union of professionals. the rotondaro family trust, the ctc foundation, -- the league of arab states, representing 350 million people in 22 member countries. the rotondaro family trust, the ctc foundation, afo communications, and the american life tv network. captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org--